A Message from Outgoing EVPT Mieke Meurs

January 2020

Dear Fellow IAFFE Members:

 As you may know, my 3-year term as Executive Vice President-Treasurer (EVPT) ended on December 31. Although it has been a pleasure to serve as EVPT of IAFFE, I feel that it is very important to have broad participation of IAFFE members in the governance of the organization.  I decided not to seek an additional term and have passed the baton to Shaianne Osterreich, whose appointment was approved by the Board at the annual Membership Meeting in June 2019.

I want to take this opportunity to highlight some of the important changes that the Finance Committee has initiated or supported during the past three years. These changes respond to member input, and I believe that they will significantly strengthen the organization.  

  •  Increased Financial Transparency: In response to Task Force input, we now have a clear policy to support financial transparency.  The IAFFE and Feminist Economics draft budgets are posted on the Members area of the IAFFE website 45 days prior to the Board approval date and an email is sent to the IAFFE membership inviting them to view the budgets and comment. The Business Manager compiles the comments and forwards them to the Finance Committee for consideration.  At least 3 weeks prior to the Board approval date, the EVPT and the Journal Editor submit the final draft budgets to the Board.  

A session dedicated to IAFFE and Feminist Economics budgetary issues has been added to the Annual Conference program, and in response to feedback received there, the spreadsheet presenting of the budget, and the associated notes and narrative have been revised to improve readability. 

  • Conference Registration Fee Restructuring:  While conference registration fees are an essential source of organization revenue needed to support our business office, conference, and other activities, the relatively high cost of attending the conference is a longstanding source of member dissatisfaction.  This year we implemented a new registration fee schedule which includes more graduated levels, a lower minimum fee, and a waiver for local participants only attending one session.  In addition, as discussed further below, we have secured additional sources of support for conference travel grants. 
  • Improved Stewardship of IAFFE Resources: During her tenure as IAFFE President (June 2016-June 2017) Joyce Jacobsen and the Finance Committee moved IAFFE Endowment Funds and other savings from very low return savings accounts to higher-yield investment accounts at Vanguard Group. Since the opening of the investment account in December of 2017, these funds have grown by $100,000.  The Finance Committee proposed, and the IAFFE Board approved, a policy for use of the anticipated IAFFE earnings emphasizing support for travel grants for young, global south, and underrepresented scholars, as well as reinvestment to continue to grow this important source of revenue. 
  • Change in Board Meeting Schedule and the IAFFE Fiscal Year: Historically, IAFFE has held two annual Board meetings, one in January at the annual meeting of the American Economics Association (AEA) and one at the Annual Conference.  Many IAFFE members do not regularly attend the AEA meeting, and attendance at the January Board Meeting (and associated Membership Meeting) has been recently low. The January Board meeting has thus not been an effective forum for Board member participation or for conducting organization business, and more organizational work has moved to the Standing Committees.  In 2019 the IAFFE Board approved a move to a single annual Board meeting, with provisions for interim electronic meetings and votes as needed.  The significant savings of funds which would have been provided to officers without other funding to attend the January meeting will be used, instead, to provide funds for Board members without alternative funding to attend the Board Meeting at the Annual Conference.  Since historically the IAFFE budget has been considered by the Board at the January meeting, the elimination of this Board meeting required a change in the IAFFE fiscal year.  The Board approved this change, and in 2019IAFFE moved to a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30. 
  • Member Engagement: Maintaining robust membership is key to IAFFE’s finances but even more important to achieving out mission.  Members have not always been completely satisfied with IAFFE’s work, however, and this has impacted member retention.  Under the leadership of Board members James Heinz and Shahra Razavi, IAFFE has secured a significant, 3-year grant from the Hewlett Foundation to support and enhance member engagement.  Funds from this grant will provide important support for travel grants and have made possible the hiring of Jihii Jolly, IAFFE’s dynamic new Director of Membership Development and Engagement.  Watch for our new newsletter format and other exciting resources for members. 
  • EVPT Job Description and Transition: In preparation for the transition to a new EVPT, the Finance Committee updated the job description to bring it into line with the current context (many technological changes and a very experienced and supportive Business Manager). The transition to a new EVPT was initiated with a call for interested candidates to the membership in early 2019 and the Board appointed the new EVPT at their Board meeting in June.  To ensure a smooth transition in this (somewhat complex?) role, the Board also appointed the incoming EVPT as a non-Board member of the Finance Committee for the balance of 2019.Also, the Board appointed another non-Board member to the Finance Committee, with the expectation of increasing the pipeline of future candidates for EVPT. 

I look forward to seeing many of you in Quito!

Mieke